Farmer raps town officials over request for entertainment license in Hadley 

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 03-20-2023 6:32 PM

HADLEY — A farmer seeking an entertainment license from the Select Board so bands can again perform at his ice cream stand during the warm weather months contends that Hadley employees and municipal boards are intentionally putting obstacles in his way.

At the March 15 Select Board meeting, where the agenda listed 100 Mill Valley Road as a discussion item, Bruce Jenks, who runs Maple Valley’s Scoops at the Silos from the site, criticized officials for putting his property on the agenda, but not being invited to the discussion.

An expanded agenda stated that “the Select Board will discuss the APR status of the property and the implications of permits,” referring to the Agricultural Preservation Restriction program that preserves farmland. A question to be answered was whether there may be prohibitions on issuing an entertainment license because of the site’s APR status.

Jenks said what he is doing is no different than many other farms in Hadley.

“It’s become almost offensive to us to operate in this town at this point,” Jenks said.

Select Board member Randy Izer said he wanted to be clear that everything happening on Jenks’ farm is allowed by APR before a decision is made on the entertainment license at the board’s April 5 meeting.

“We’re trying to figure out how to make things work for you,” Izer said.

The Planning Board recently recommended the entertainment license for Jenks’ business so the site can have speakers and music each week, and parking for up to 60 cars, from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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Jenks said in addition to being excluded from the Select Board meeting, he feels there has been general mistreatment toward him and the operator of the El Durango Taco Truck that he has invited to set up on site each week.

He alleges the food truck proprietor was accosted by a town employee who threatened that the operation wouldn’t be allowed in town. The interaction led to chatter that Jenks wouldn’t get his license, or would have it pulled.

“How incestuous that group is at Town Hall is very concerning,” Jenks said.

Jenks said he is doing something good in Hadley, bringing people to town and educating them about farm life.

“It’s not a dump, it’s not cows up to their bellies in manure, it’s a showplace for people to understand what agriculture is,” Jenks said.

Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan disputed the accusations Jenks made against town staff, including Jenks’ claim that an employee was trying to bar the food truck’s presence.

But Izer said there is no allowance in town zoning for food trucks to operate seasonally, though they can be permitted for special events such as the annual Asparagus Festival.

“We’re doing the best we can,” Izer said. “We can’t just make it magically happen.”

Jenks, though, said an ice cream stand on Lawrence Plain Road is a permanent food truck, while Izer said his understanding is it that it has been grandfathered.

“I just don’t understand how it’s become we’re the single focus of every meeting,” Jenks said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.]]>